Friends, we are being crushed by expectation.
The expectation is that every single family be self-sufficient. To chauffeur, build, arrange, direct and engage the children, in addition to holding down full-time jobs. With perhaps only occasional help that we pay for. Stress self-contained.
The expectation is that the mom can bear the weight of a household’s function and connection in addition to climbing a career ladder successfully.
The expectation is that the children are well-adjusted, the parents are fulfilled, and the social media squares project only happiness.
But friends, this is too much. Way too much. No wonder the pervasive feelings of burnout and the statistics of depression and anxiety are overwhelming. Isolation breeds these conditions.
When in history have both the mom and dad worked full-time, the children been cultivated to perfection in every pursuit, and the standard of parading perfection been so high? Never. When in history is the expectation that no time be free, that success is career prestige rather than average fulfillment? Never. When in history have families lived so separate from each other, where dinner can’t be casual and get-togethers not be a production. Never.
We live in a culture where families live separate, and friends live void of real community. We are ashamed to ask for help, and further, we feel like not enough if we ever get to the point that we have to.
In essence, we feel shame for needing community.
But the reality is this: Community is our design, and there should be no shame. We are not meant to live in bubbles of isolation family to family. We are meant to live together. Sharing happiness, and along with that, sharing burden.
Raising a family is hard. Working outside the home is hard. Working inside the home while raising a family is hard.
It is so hard that to do it well, we actually can’t do it alone.
Community isn’t fancy. In fact, it is more like the snot and germs of a playground during flu season than the perfection of a crystal dining room. It’s real.
It’s popping by a friend’s house unannounced just to say hi when you happen to be in the area.
It’s inviting people in when your home isn’t perfect and you’re wading through the laundry in various stages of done-ness.
It’s seeing the look of overwhelm in a mom’s eyes and offering to take her kids for a while, right now, because you see she needs a break before she, herself, breaks today.
It’s having the courage to share your weakness and struggles and meeting a friend in your mutual imperfection.
It’s parenting other kids in the neighborhood, and allowing your kids to be parented by other adults too.
It’s swallowing your pride and serving hard-boiled eggs and apple slices to your friends because you haven’t made it to the grocery store yet.
It’s giving up your non-threating food avoidances and allowing yourself to be served a meal made by others.
It’s being unpaid for the help you give, and freeing yourself from paying for the help you receive.
Community is being vulnerable within the vulnerability of others. It’s terrifying, but it’s exactly what we need.
Use your margin of time every week and every month to pursue real relationship with people. People whom we need. People who become community, and community that supports like proximal family.
We are not designed to live in isolation. We are not designed to never need help.
Part of finding rest is finding community. And finding community, needing community, is nothing to be ashamed of.